April 26, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis senior Chandler Wagner drilled a shot over the left field fence to record her first-ever home run as an Aggie to give her team a 1-0 lead in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against the UC Riverside Highlanders. Even though UC Davis only needed that run, another two were added as the game progressed en route to a 3-0, Aggie victory.
UC Davis right-hander Dana Cruse also picked up the win in the following game by allowing two hits throughout her five innings in the circle. Combined Amy Nunez' two RBI and a two-run scoring spree in the sixth, the Aggies captured a sweep of the day's action by downing the Highlanders 4-1.
The Aggies will seek a series sweep when action resumes Sunday, at 12 p.m. Following the series finale is another game involving UC Davis as former players will battle this year's team in the program's annual alumni game. First pitch for that friendly battle will take place approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of La Rue Field's lone Big West game.
Going the distance in the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader, Cruse collected her third complete-game shutout victory of the season. The freshman threw a gem for the Aggies, allowing only one hit to UCR throughout the first four frames. Even though UCR recorded another two hits throughout the final three innings, no Highlander ever came close to scoring thanks to the freshman's effort.
Aiding her effort in the series opener were UC Davis' bats in its half of the second as all three runs scored in the first game were earned in the bottom half of that inning.
By turning on a 2-2 pitch, Wagner started the Aggies' scoring rally by hitting a line drive over the left field fence. That solo shot was her first-ever home run hit as an Aggie, and gave her team a 1-0 lead.
"When I turned first, I heard Coach Rios and my teammates screaming. As I circled the bases I was just excited to hit a home run. I just saw the pitch and wanted to reach base safely," said Wagner. "I was excited to say the least," she added when describing her trip around the diamond.
The following batter, Kimberly Pena, drew an eight-pitch walk; the batter after her, Cat Guidry, also reached base when she sprinted down the line and beat the throw after hitting a chopper back to the pitcher.
With two runners on base, and two outs already recorded, Christa Castello emptied the bases on her triple to the gap in right center, literally outrunning the throw to third after making the turn at second to place herself 60 feet from scoring.
Even though Castello was stranded at third, UC Davis' 3-0 lead held throughout the following four-plus innings as both pitchers took turns hanging zeros on the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
Less than 30 minutes after earning her eighth win of 2014, Cruse returned to the circle to start Gm. 2 for UC Davis.
"I went with the hot pitcher," said UC Davis head coach Karen Yoder following UC Davis' Saturday sweep. "She felt good and wanted to throw again, so I went with my instincts and started her for the second game as well."
Yoder's premonition paid off when Cruse continued her stellar performance from her previous outing she gave up only two hits throughout her five innings thrown in Gm. 2.
While Cruse frustrated the Highlanders (again), the Aggies came through in clutch situations at the plate (again) beginning with their first set of at-bats. After Castello, the first UC Davis batter to face Highlander starter Sophie Slagle, was plunked by a pitch, Nunez made UCR pay for its miscue by driving her teammate in on a double to left field.
That same combination paid dividends again, this time in the fifth, starting with Castello's single to third base. Advancing to second on a passed ball, Nunez pushed UC Davis' lead to a 2-0 margin when Castello scored on her single through the middle.
UC Davis doubled its lead again in the bottom of the sixth when Guidry scored from first base on Krista Bava's double, and a sacrifice fly to left from Alexis Carney who recorded her inaugural collegiate RBI on the play.
Entering the game in the top of the sixth, Andrea Reynolds also allowed only two hits to the Highlanders to collect her team-high third save of the year.
By virtue of throwing seven innings of shutout softball in the first game, and another five scoreless in the second, Cruse's ERA decreased by nearly half a run in a handful of hours.
UC Davis will look to earn its first Big West sweep of the season when these teams return to La Rue Field in Sunday's 12 p.m. series finale. A link to access live stats is available at ucdavisaggies.com.